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He stormed out of the fire exit at the end of the high school corridor leaving behind an army of roaring bullies. He ran as far as he could, far from the screams and the bawls, far from the cussing that had become so frequent that now, even he referred to himself as “the gay boy”.

Well, what was so wrong with that? What WAS so wrong about being a “faggot”?

He longed for a place where he felt he belonged… No one really knew at home, school made him angry, he had no friends, just faces that surrounded him, faces that made him feel like he was a part of the society.

Marching angrily, he knew exactly the place that would make him feel better.  He found it a couple of weeks ago and it had been his escape since then. Amidst the harsh neon backdrop, he saw the familiar black and white board with “PULSE” written on it. With burning eyes and a dizzy head, he sat himself down on a lone stool by the bar. His hands were trembling. He needed to nurse that horrible gash on his forehead: an outcome of the encounter earlier that day in school. But most importantly, he needed to talk to someone. He needed to tell.

He had run from reality enough. He could no longer run from himself.

Away from the deafening music of the nightclub, he shut himself inside one of the bathroom stalls. This would probably be the first time he would text his Dad over WhatsApp.

“Dad… You there?”

“Eddie! Where are you? Your mother and I have been worried sick!”

“Dad.. I need to tell you something.”

“Son you’re scaring me. What’s the matter?”

“Just know that I thank you for everything you have done for me and I hope you can love me after.”

“Eddie. Are you okay? What’s going on?”

“Dad. I’m gay.

….

……

“Really?”

“Yes.”

….

….

….

“Well then, Hi gay! I’m Dad!

And I love you no matter what.”

…..

…..

“I love you too, Dad!”

“Now tell me where you are, I’ll come pick you up. Mum says dinner is getting cold.”

“Yeah sure! PULSE, 1912 S Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL 32806. Dad?”

“Yeah?”

“Thank you.”

“Dad! Dad! Don’t come here! Call the Police! Now!”

“Called the police. What happened?”

“I’m trapped in the bathroom. They’re shooting Dad…I’m scared”

“Eddie. Listen. I called 911. It’ll be okay. You’ll be fine, son”

“Dad. I love you.”

“Hey Eddie. No goodbyes son. You’ll be fine. Talk to me what’s happening?”

“He’s coming in, Dad.”

“Who’s coming in Eddie? What’s happening?”

……

……

“Eddie! You okay?”

…..

…..

…..

“Eddie?”

….

….

“Eddie?”
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Inspired by the text messages Eddie Justice, one of the 49 victims of the Orlando shooting, sent to his mother at 2:06 AM while trapped in the club’s bathroom stall. #PrayForOrlando

– Snigdha Nagarajan

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